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A Time for Change
I felt like I was drowning. Like I am drowning. Except, you know how there’s always the sun sparkling so brilliantly through the surface when you look up as you go under? I couldn’t see it. I only saw the murky, cold, dank water. And drowning in this seemed so much less romantic. Like I’d missed something I wasn’t going to get back. I realized that all this time I thought I’d been alive, I’d really, actually been dead.
“Do you ever have thoughts about killing yourself?”
“Doesn’t everyone?” Insert bitter, quiet chuckle.
“Do you have a plan?”
“On what? How to die?”
“Do you think about it now?”
“Yes, but now there’s no ice.”
“Oh? What were you going to do?”
I looked up at the face of the clock. How much was this lady paid a minute to ask me stupid questions? The clock ticked by eight more seconds before I worked up the nerve to speak again.
“I was going to jump off the bridge into the St. Joe.”
Silence. I think I shocked her. If I did, good, maybe someone would actually listen to me instead of pretending my problems could be melted away with a magical pill.
“Were you unhappy?”
I pause, how was I supposed to put that? “No.”
She was silent for a total of sixteen seconds, I was counting.
“I just wanted out.”
“Out of what?” She leaned forward a little in case she’d miss what I had to say. But what I had to say wouldn’t be spoken. I stayed silent for the last forty-eight seconds of the session, repeating over and over in my mind. A hell that I created.
“Does it hurt?”
“Yeah, worse than anything...” he coughed into his hand and turned towards the mirror and jerked a thumb at my reflection,
“When did you stop seeing yourself Jay-Jay?” the name stung for a second, but I ignored it.
“When you died I guess.”
“No, you haven’t seen yourself in years. Your problems are deeper rooted than me.” I opened my mouth and studied my tongue in the mirror. I hated this terrible pink muscle, I pictured taking Shawn’s pretty silver blade to it, letting it fall into the sink, and watching the blood and lies wash down the sink. I wanted to see it wither and die between my lips, so I’d never have to go through the pain of losing someone again.
“Why did you leave me here, Jonny? Why’d you have to go?”
“Because you needed to live and I was beyond ready to die.” I peered at him from underneath curly, copper bangs like he was an alien.
“Why is that a not good enough answer for me?” He returned my gaze with a look of pity and emptiness. I turned away.
“You’re not real. You’re not even here. I dreamed you to give me someone to talk to.”
“I’m as real as the thirty-seven scars on the bottom of your left arm.” He tossed the statement into the air as easily as “I’m getting a haircut next Tuesday.” I went back to attacking the bathroom mirror with the green product, peeling away layers of make-up, toothpaste, and oily, old finger prints. “Where’s my rosary? I haven’t seen it in a while.”
I said nothing. What could I say? It’s been gone for almost a year now. “What good is being dead if you don’t even leave Earth?”
His mouth closed into a pinched, thin line; well as thin as his lips could get, what with him being black and all. “It’s lonely here, and why would I go anywhere when I can take you with me in just a few human moments?”
I turned to him with as much sarcasm in my movements as my pregnant belly would allow, “What are you talking about?”
“Think about it. If giving birth doesn’t kill you, because you have virtually no will to live, then your own hand will. You’re weak; physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.”
“Like you know anything about me.”
“Actually, I do. I know you’re a liar. I know you’re a known thief. I know that you cheated on Kyle, out of anger… how original… I know your life is pretty much over. You’ve hit rock bottom, and though it might look, to everyone else, like you’re trying to climb back up. I know the truth. And I’ll be the only one around to watch your body fall, Sisyphus…”
“Why would I do that? What about Shawn?”
“Deep down, you know he’ll move on.”
“Yeah? What about Kyle?”
“He freaking hates your guts, who are you kidding?”
“And my parents?”
“Oh please, they’ll be so consumed in their love for your child, because Goddess knows, you’re not much more than a surrogate, they’ll totally forget you.”
“And my baby? What about my son, Jonny?”
“Please, once he calls Jen ‘Mommy,’ you’ll fall into a depression that you’ll never come out of. You’ll be dead before he can even remember your name.”
“Why are you here if you’re just HELL-BENT on making me miserable?”
“Jay-Jay… the world doesn’t stop for one person. Especially not a lying, pregnant, suicidal, teenage girl. No one but the dead can remember you. You’ll be forgotten pretty quickly.”
Tears prickled behind my eyelids. He spoke the truth, and he spoke exactly as I had been thinking, but that doesn’t make it any less painful. It made a terrible kind of sense. On Jonny’s last day, he’d had energy for the first time in weeks, he seemed so… alive. And then, even that was taken from him. And Hopper, oh Jaime, he was the world’s best dad, friend, son-in-law, cousin, and all around guy anyone in my family had ever known. And the day he died, he hadn’t even been honored by a cloud in the sky; he died on a perfect day. Jonny was right, as always. The world didn’t cease to turn because of one person’s death. If anything, to everyone around who knew the person that had died, it seemed to speed up, brighten, and be an all-around better place, except to the people who needed it to be. I barely managed to squeak out to Jonny without my tears flooding but I heard myself say, “Please, go away Jonny. I need to be alone.”
He glanced at me from my own reflection, as if to say I can’t. His face lingered lightly over my reflection, like a hologram until our faces merged, more or less, into the same face. “According to you, you’ve been alone this whole time,” I grimaced, “I’m not real. Remember?”
I sunk down to a squatting position, and realized that, somehow, I’d gotten into the bathtub and forgotten about it. I slipped off my socks, rolled my jeans up to my knees, and turned on the faucet, as cold as it would go. The burning sting of my tears trailed down my cheeks in a flood of warmth while my feet turned cold and numb with bath water. I knew, I just knew I was going insane; because nobody has legitimate conversations with dead people unless they’re legitimately going insane.